CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Sex scandals within Clearwater Fire & Rescue have been a problem in recent years. For some, notably agency leaders, the desire for hot and steamy affairs was as hot as the fires they fight.
Some firefighters have certainly battled their own flames of desire on the job, costing them dearly. Some have lost lifelong careers. Others have been suspended. The organization as a whole is embarrassed and fed up with the sexual shenanigans. Enough is enough, claim city leaders.
The last straw seemed to be the most recent case of a relationship between a lieutenant and his subordinate. Lt. William Fry was having an affair with a fire medic, Tiffany Seabolt. The two worked in Firehouse 49 in Clearwater, where fellow firefighters described their relationship as being “like a married couple,” according to a city report released Monday.
Many staff members reported feeling uncomfortable, citing the “tenseness” between the lieutenant and his subordinate, according to the report. An investigation was launched, and the city found that there was a sexual relationship going on between the pair. The lieutenant was suspended for 30 days without pay, while the medic was suspended for 15 days without pay.
In the last three years, there have been a series of seedy photos, homemade sex videos and inappropriate activities around fire stations in Clearwater. The unscrupulous behavior involved lieutenants, a medic and even a fire chief.
Clearwater city manager Bill Horne admits it has not been easy. “I may not look like I’m embarrassed but I’m significantly embarrassed so is the entire organization,” Horne said.
We took our questions all the way up the chain to Horne’s office. We had an open, lengthy conversation about the state of the agency. While he says he is embarrassed and disappointed, he wants to make things right and is ready to do so. He explained that there are many good men and women who do their jobs each and every day, protecting and saving the lives of citizens. He calls this an unfortunate series of incidents and points out it is not a trend
News Channel 8 asked Horne point-blank why these sexual shenanigans keep happening. It boils down to lack of leadership and discipline, he said.
“What happens in our firehouse is not a soap opera, you know. It’s not a drama, not TV … It’s not ‘Chicago Fire,’ and I watch ‘Chicago Fire,’ by the way.”
Horne and other city leaders are saying enough is enough. The sex stops here. The city is ready to make sweeping changes, including surveillance cameras at all of the fire houses and unannounced, surprise visits from assistant fire chiefs.
Also, the fire chief himself will require firefighters to familiarize themselves once again with the agency’s code of conduct. He may even make amendments to the already existing material. Also, discipline will continue for anyone who doesn’t follow the rules.